How Sodexo has Adapted the Established Model of Corporate Responsibility

As a leading food and facilities management provider, Sodexo employs 43,000 people and manages operations at over 2,300 sites in the UK and Ireland, from large corporations and government agencies to schools, hospitals, the MoD and large high profile events. Sodexo has taken the established model of corporate responsibility and made it their own as ‘corporate citizenship’. It is a fundamental part of Sodexo’s everyday business practice and forms the basis of how the company operates. Corporate citizenship manager Thomas Jelley says: “Our approach is to provide stakeholders with an insight into how we act as a responsible company – managing our social, environmental and economic impacts within our UK and Ireland operations.” Explaining why Sodexo has changed from ‘corporate responsibility’ to ‘corporate citizenship’, Thomas continues: “It is our belief that a business environment where decisions are based on strong values, ethical principles and an understanding of all risks and opportunities, is how every relationship should be founded. It is this approach which helps us ensure that Sodexo rises to the challenges as a responsible corporate citizen.” Sodexo has reported on its activities since 2005, with its annual corporate citizenship report outlining objectives, timescales and actions across key issues such as supply chains, diversity, health and well- being, community investment and the environment. External recognition is a valued way of benchmarking Sodexo’s performance, and earlier this year Sodexo was named one of Business In The Community’s (BITC) Top 100 ‘Companies That Count’ for the third year running. The list comprises the top performing companies from BITC’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) Index, the UK’s leading benchmark for responsible business practice. Published as a supplement in The Sunday Times, the list presents the organisations that achieved the 100 highest scores in BITC’s CR Index following an assessment of their management practices in four key areas: environment, community, marketplace and workplace. Sodexo performed highly across all four areas to achieve an overall silver rank score of 83.5%; almost a 10% improvement on its inaugural 2005 result. Sustainable procurement As a large scale purchaser Sodexo is committed to the principle’s of sustainable procurement, while recognising that there is a balance to be struck between meeting the needs of its own business, adhering to government legislation and meeting the needs of others. Thomas says: “With the increasing interest in the origin and traceability of food and environmental conservation, we substantially strengthened our sustainable procurement strategy including the creation of a new role entirely dedicated to sustainable procurement.” Tamsin Gane was appointed for the role and has responsibility for reducing Sodexo’s contribution to climate change, providing customers with nutritious and responsibly sourced food, and encouraging the use of fresh, seasonable produce to help reduce food miles and emissions from long-term refrigerated storage. As part of its strategy, Sodexo’s logistics team is working with primary distributors to simplify and strengthen the supply chain, reviewing how food can be delivered to sites more efficiently. Through consolidation between January and December 2007 the number of deliveries to Sodexo sites was reduced by over 100,000, saving over 360,000 road miles and 400 tonnes of CO2 compared with the previous year. Thomas adds: “One way we have managed to achieve this reduction is with the help of our major logistics partner, the Brakes Group, which shares our commitment to reducing environmental impacts attributable to delivery food miles. Through the introduction of a minimum order requirement with Brakes, we have managed to discourage ‘little and often’ delivery patterns resulting in fewer deliveries complemented by sophisticated route planning software to reduce distances travelled.” Environmental impact Sodexo’s approach is to keep environmental management simple but effective, and to implement procedures that deliver tangible results to enable the effects of actions to be measured and the benefits quantified. This simple approach includes defined roles and responsibilities for environmental management, performance monitoring, training and communication, auditing and benchmarking. A dedicated environmental manager was appointed in 2007, closely followed by the formation of an environmental forum. The forum brings together environmental health and safety professionals from Sodexo’s business segments who conduct regular environmental auditing as part of their role. During 2007, Sodexo focused on establishing an accurate view of its position through the collection of robust data to accurately measure progress towards reducing its environmental footprint. A significant challenge for Sodexo is effectively managing and reducing the environmental impacts of such a diverse business which operates at 2,300 sites varying from hospitals to large sporting events, universities and global headquarters. Many of its sites already have good environmental practices in place and Sodexo’s challenge is to use these to ensure consistent performance. Thomas says: “Following the appointment of Paul Bracegirdle as environmental manager we now have a three year environmental strategy and improvement programme in place, setting out our key objectives to be achieved by 2010.” Sodexo’s strategic objectives are: n To implement a formal environmental management system n To ensure continuous improvement in environmental performance year on year n To inspire employee action n To integrate environmental considerations into all decision-making processes n To make business segments responsible for their environmental impacts n To demonstrate long term environmental cost savings Environmental management and sustainable procurement are just two areas Sodexo includes within its corporate citizenship approach. Thomas concludes: “At Sodexo, corporate citizenship is our contribution to sustainable development. For this we have received a number of recognitions which help us benchmark our performance. For example, in addition to being named a Top 100 company in the BITC CR Index, Sodexo Group is a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.” Sodexo’s corporate citizenship approach encompasses much more than the elements covered here, and its third corporate citizenship report is testament to the breadth and depth of its commitment